When time and funding permit, each flower (each plant species) will have its own page, and its own PDF, and eventually its own PPT so that professors and students have plenty of material on Guatemala (and Honduras, etc) to study.

Heliconia adflexa, Coban, Guatemala, Hotel Monja Blanca, FLAAR, by Nicholas Hellmuth

This space is for flowers
we have recently found and photographed.

Reports by FLAAR Mesoamerica
on Flora & Fauna of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo
Peten, Guatemala, Central America

Follow me in twitter. FLAAR reports Add a Nicholas Hellmunth to yor network. FLAAR reports.
| Share
News Feeds:

Ciricote, Siricote or Ziricote, Cordia dodecandra

April 3, 2019

3 dimentional lichen at Yaxha

Camera NIKON D810, lens Nikon AF-Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D IF-ED Macro; settings: f/13, speed 1/250, ISO 1250.
Photo by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth

Ciricote, Cordia dodecandra, is a tree found in many areas of Peten and elsewhere in Guatemala (and Mexico, Belize, Honduras, etc.). I have been familiar with ciricote for many decades since its flowers are very photogenic. It blooms in March and April (and other months depending on the climate that particular year).

I call the tree ciricote; gringo botanists tend to spell it siricote; lumber companies spell it ziricote. The species I know best in Guatemala is Cordia dodecandra but many more species exist in Mesoamerica.

In Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo we have found ciricote along the Rio Ixtinto, along the road between Yaxha and Nakum, and next to the camp buildings at Nakum. The Naranjo area should also have plenty of ciricote trees also. The last week of March (2019) I noticed several ciricote trees while hiking through the park.

We will be creating a web page shortly, dedicated to documenting all the uses of different parts of the Cordia dodecandra tree. The Cordia dodecandra tree has the added benefit that if you plant it as a future lumber tree you have fresh fruit every year as the ciricote tree grows. We (FLAAR) know of many properties in Peten where a tree nursery could be started and properties which could be reforested. The nice aspect is this part of Mesoamerica is an original home for the Cordia dodecandra tree, so it is already happy with the climate and soils here.

Since we found several ciricote trees in full bloom during late March every day while in Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo, we would like to show the pretty flowers.


Mushrooms and lichen as dye colorants
for Maya weaving

Posted Mar. 18, 2019

At Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo the combined team of FLAAR Mesoamerica working with the park administrators through IDAEH and CONAP have found more than a dozen species of mushrooms native to this park. No previous botanical study of this park listed many (or sometimes any) mushrooms (or lichens or moss and not many ferns either).

While doing research on pre-Columbian colorants of the Aztecs and other cultures of Mexico, I was surprised to find that all three major books on dye colorants of Mexico clearly document that Aztecs (and assumedly their neighbors) used lichen to make colorants.

WOW, sure never knew this while doing research on useful plants of Mayan ecosystems for many decades (keeping in mind that a mushroom is “not a plant” and that a lichen is an algae plus fungus interacting in a mutualistic relationship). Plus not a peep about mushrooms and lichens as dye colorant source in my own decades of research on dye available to the Maya.

So now our full-color PowerPoint presentation gathers together all this information (together with high-resolution photos of the mushrooms and lichen at Yaxha) and also mention every vine, plant, tree, etc. that was available to the Mayan people for dye colorants from local Petén resources.

The lecture was 2 April 2019, 10 am (to 11 am), Museo Ixchel on campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala City, Central America. We are now updating this presentation to create an English edition.

The co-author of this presentation, Elena Siekavizza, did research and found 48 mushrooms (that grow in Petén area) that can give dye colorants (usually need a mordant also). So as soon as the rainy season returns we would like to find as many of these mushrooms as possible at Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo. But during the last 8 months of field work at the park we have found at least an initial dozen of dye producing mushrooms. Ironically the most common mushroom in the park is a dye source.

Lichens are amazing biological organisms, I would be very pleasantly surprised to find any book on Mayan archaeology, Mayan way of life, or any general coverage of the Classic Maya that focused on the potential for using local lichens (yet books on dye colorants by Mexican scholars list and show photos of lichens in all of the three major books on dye colorants). Not one single book on dye colorants of the Maya (that I have on my desk) mention, list, or even hint at mushrooms or lichens. Yet the FLAAR team found lichens in the bajos and rain forests and Elena Siekavizza, did research and found 20 lichen species reported for Peten. Would be great for a PhD candidate to do field work in the Yaxha park to achieve a dissertation on Lichen as a source of Dye Colorants for the Maya.

Plus we (IDAEH + CONAP team together with FLAAR Mesoamerica team) have found 9 trees at Yaxha which would have produced dye colorants for the Classic Maya. Seven trees which produce dye colorant at Yaxha are totally missing from books on dye colorants of the Maya of Guatemala (because 99% of research on dye colorants is in the Highlands, especially Lake Atitlan, Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, and Antigua Guatemala (plus Highland Chiapas). This is why the FLAAR teams are focusing on discovering dye colorants available at Tikal, Uaxactun, Yaxha, Nakum, Naranjo and thus of course at Holmul, El Zotz, Seibal and all the sites to the west in Chiapas and to the east in Belize. We are working to “rewrite what the Classic Maya had available in their diverse ecosystems for thousands of years.” Plus of course they had trade networks.


Click to enlarge image
If your museum, university, botanical garden, foundation, organization, social club, or other entity would like the fresh full-color results of the work of the team of FLAAR and FLAAR Mesoamerica we have lots of lectures with high-definition photographs. For example, the ancient Mayan people had no plastic! Senaida Ba and Nicholas Hellmuth have worked together for several years to make a list, then to find and photograph, all the materials the Mayan had (since there was no plastic).

Contact: FrontDesk symbol FLAAR.org (we assume you can figure this out). We can lecture in English, Spanish, and German (and elsewhere the English presentation can be sent in advance to be translated for simultaneous translation during the presentation).

Ps: Nicholas is now doing research as to whether the moss discovered by park ranger Moises Daniel Perez Diaz can be used to produce a dye colorant and/or mordant. The moss (same species) came in green, orange, and reddish color (the color changed every few meters in a remarkable bog ecosystem that Nicholas found via an aerial photograph and then hiked with the team many hours to study what plants were present).



Giant “tree fern” found near Yaxha, Peten, Guatemala

Posted Feb. 25, 2019


Photograph by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth, with a Nikon D810, Nikon AF-Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D IF-ED Macro lens, f/13, ISO 1,250

When you look at aerial photos of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo (or Google maps in satellite view) you notice a unique single rectangular area with zero tree forest. Since every aguada, bajo, or savanna ecosystem in the same park (and in adjacent Tikal national park and in all parks to the east in Belize) are oval or irregular shape, to find a pure rectangle documents it’s “Made by the Maya” (several thousand years ago).

So I was curious about what plants we would find here, so last week we spent several hours out in the Mayan rain forest hiking around the southeast side and southeast corner around to the east side.

All forest trees stop at the edge of this Poza Maya or Aguada Maya, as it is named. But inside the rectangle the soil is moist (since the ancient Maya put a layer of material to keep the water from escaping). Growing in this bog-like eco-system is a thick entanglement of tall plants whose fronds remained me of palm trees but when Elena Siekavizza reached these plants she recognized they were giant ferns. Once she got back to our main research office she identified them as Acrostichum danaeifolium. We also found edible begonias in the bog.

Most of these plants have not been registered as being present in Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo. The giant “tree fern” is totally different than ones everywhere in the cloud forest of Alta Verapaz. So if you like rare and photogenic plants, plan a trip to the Yaxha national park. Restaurante El Portal de Yaxha (aldea of La Maquina, at crossroads of main paved highway to turnoff towards Yaxha park) offers 4WD service to reach Poza Maya (if booked far in advance). Ecolodge El Sombrero provides comfortable hotel at entrance to Yaxha park.



Lecture & Photo Exhibits on Waterbirds of the Mayan Jungle Lakes & Swamps

Posted Feb. 17, 2019

Dr Nicholas Hellmuth has been accomplishing research on waterbirds in 4th-9th century Mayan murals, sculptured stelae, and painted or incised ceramics for 40 years. We now have exhibit quality high-resolution photographs on the waterbirds of Lake Yaxha, between the Mayan ruins of Topoxte Island and Yaxha. So for any bird-watching organization, we have a great visual experience for you.

The team of photographers of FLAAR (USA) and FLAAR Mesoamerica (Guatemala) have Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 1DX Mark II digital cameras. So we can use high ISO to be able to use 1/2000th or even 1/3000th of a second to “stop each bird in flight.”

We have 300mm lens for the Canon and 200mm, 400mm, 600mm, and 800mm prime Nikon (Nikkor) lenses for bird photography, plus of course Gitzo tripods, Wimberley Gimbals, etc. to facilitate capturing nice photographs of these birds of the Mayan world.

So for any university, natural history museum, zoological park, bird watching organization, or any social club, we have photos to provide a Mayan experience to your conference, class, seminar, lecture, or other event.

Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it is one way to contact us, or by Skype.


Would you or your botanical garden like a presentation on AQUATIC orchids of the Mayan lakes of Guatemala?

Posted Feb. 15, 2019

If you would like a lecture on aquatic orchids (that Dr Hellmuth discovered in Lake Yaxha, Peten, Guatemala) we now have high-resolution photographs of Dr Nicholas Hellmuth out in the remote lakes documenting the fact that these orchids have their roots at water level (and frequently down into the water of the lake).

These orchids have not “fallen from tree limbs into the lake.”

These orchids are not growing from seeds fallen from the shore. These orchids grow on reeds several meters away from the shore (over the water).

If you would like a lecture on dye colorants (for Mayan weaving), or on what foods the Classic Maya could harvest from the surrounding rain forests (with no slash-and-burn milpa agriculture), and especially if you would like to know what SuperFoods the Maya had available for thousands of years (more than just maize, beans, and squash), he can lecture in Spanish, German, and English, or can be simultaneously translated into your local language.

Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to arrange to fly Dr Nicholas Hellmuth to your part of the world.

And also consider visiting Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo in Guatemala, to see these aquatic orchids in full bloom (plus of course all the other orchids: terrestrial and arboreal).

Dr Nicholas (as is his nickname around the world) has been in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize since age 16. So he is familiar with Mayan archaeology, art, iconography, plus the plants of the rain forests surrounding the ancient Mayan cities.


3-dimensional Lichen? Between Yaxha and Nakum, Peten, Guatemala

Posted Jan. 30, 2019

More than 70% of the trees in Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo have white lichen on their trunks (most jiote and most pimienta gorda trees escape lichen). There is rose-colored, orange, pink, reddish, light green and a few other colors of thin lichen on tree trunks (but white is over 70%, in some areas over 90%). We are looking for 3-dimensional lichen. Maria Alejandra Gutierrez, FLAAR Mesoamerica, found and photographed this lichen on the road between Yaxha and Nakum in mid-January 2019.

3 dimentional lichen at Yaxha 3 dimentional lichen at Yaxha

Camera Canon EOS-1D Xmark II, lens Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM; settings: f/2.8, speed 1/8000, ISO 1000.
Photo by Maria Alejandra Gutierrez

Photo by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth
with an IPhone Xs

We will try to find this branch the next time we are in the 17 km stretch between Yaxha and Nakum. Perhaps the crusty whitish lichen is curling up because the branch is no longer alive. I say this because over 90% of the lichen on millions of trees in the park is normally flat when on a growing tree trunk. Lichen is a different shape along the shores of Lake Yaxha on dead branches over the water (where the lake has risen and frees formerly on the old dry shore are now dead because the lake level has risen). However the lake shore lichen shape is because the branches are water soaked plus are one to two meters above the water level (the lower trunks are in one to two meters of risen lake level).

Since we do not have a PhD in lichen or mushrooms, I am not able to identify the thin red spaghetti under the white lichen (in the photograph at the left). But it is rare to find spaghetti-like lichen or mushrooms in the park. Red Cuscuta parasitic vines are common, but this is not Cuscuta. Perhaps the thin orange spaghetti growth is either lichen or moss or some other growth. We will work at finding more of this and photographing it with better focus next time.

The Italian pasta-like material in the photograph at the left has a Cuscuta vine going under and around it. Cuscuta is “everywhere” along the shores of Lake Yaxha and in dry areas between Yaxha and Nakum. But I photographed this Italian pasta mass because it looks to me more like 3-dimensional lichen than the thin orange spaghetti in the photo at the left.

I am interested in finding and photographing all 3-dimensional lichens since these are more likely to be a source of colorants. The Aztec and their neighbors used both mushrooms and lichen for colorants. The Maya had mushrooms available and we have found the colorant mushroom all over Yaxha and Nakum and in between. But we have not yet found lichen, nor have we yet found good photo albums and checklists of lichens of Peten. For Tikal there is a thesis on mushrooms of Tikal. Would help to have a thesis or dissertation on lichens of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo.



Panorama photography equipment options for national parks: reviews & recommendations; and also tips of what to avoid.

Posted December 31, 2018

The beauty and attractiveness of this large national park is much more than archaeological remains of pyramids, temples, palaces, ballcourts, acropolises, plazas, causeways (Sacbe), etc.

Yaxha Acropolis

Click to enlarge image.
Lots of plants out there. Lots of Mayan pyramids buried under these trees and vines. But just imagine how many awesome tropical flowers you can find during the season these trees flower (March, April, May and many other months).

Botanist Cyrus Lundell estimated there were 2,000 plants in the central Peten rain forests. Other botanists suggest there are over 200 species of trees. The other 1800 plants are vines, orchids, bromeliads, and plants of the shores, marshes, and bogs. So there is huge potential for botanical research at Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo.

In the 1970’s I spent five years doing the map of all the monumental architecture plus the smaller house mounds. But today (2018-2019) I come to Yaxha to study the neo-tropical flora and fauna of this park.

In the long run it will be essential to do aerial photography, preferably with a helicopter, since here you can use high-resolution cameras. Drones will pester local birds and 90% of the cameras on drones are simple point-and-shoot and overly wide-angle: cameras for bikers and hikers on their weekend and vacation adventures. We prefer serious photography, so we use a Nikon D5 and a Canon EOS 1DX Mark II camera.

But until we find a helpful individual or company with a helicopter who can donate photo opportunities, we show the remarkable rain forest with panoramas taken from the top of pyramids and acropolises at Yaxha and Nakum. We hope to get back to Naranjo and do panoramic photograph there with archaeologists Vilma Fialko, Raul Noriega and their capable team.

We have L-shaped panorama tripod heads (Bogen 3288 (Manfrotto 340)). We have the second-generation GigaPan, the most awesome panorama camera yet invented. Plus already in the 1990’s we had the BetterLight tri-linear scanner large-format digital panoramic camera system.

At Photokina 2016 we spent quality time in the NOVOFLEX booth; they have a diverse range of L-shaped panorama equipment with quality Made in Germany. But until their equipment is available to evaluate, we will be writing about the L-shaped Bogen 3288 (Manfrotto 340) on a Manfrotto 303PLUS panoramic photography head system and the GigaPan panorama photography systems.

Nakum Forest Maya Peten Landscape

Click to enlarge image.
We close this peek into the rain forests of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo with another panorama by the FLAAR Mesoamerica photography team. All these photos are to show the world the natural beauty that you can experience here.

The hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero has many of the same trees over the hotel restaurant and directly in front of your hotel room. This hotel is at the entrance to the park, to the left directly at the entrance gates.




Terrestrial orchids, 2 species, Senahu, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

Posted Dec. 27, 2018

Since Alta Verapaz has significantly higher humidity than Peten you get even more orchids, bromeliads, and other epiphytes. But Alta Verapaz also has terrestrial orchids. One, red-orange, is very common. It grows as a “roadside weed” along most rural unpaved roads around Senahu and many other areas of Alta Verapaz.

We found lots of this terrestrial orchid blooming on Christmas Day (yes, I work almost every day of the year, including my birthday, New Year’s, etc; there are so many plants and pollinators and eco-systems to learn about, I don’t want to waste a day).

Terrestrial-orchids-2-species-Senahu-Alta_Verapaz-Guatemala-FLAAR-Mesoamerica Terrestrial-orchids-2-species-Senahu-Alta_Verapaz-Guatemala-FLAAR-Mesoamerica

Click here to enlarge image
Camera NIKON D810, Nikon AF-Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D IF-ED Macro, f/13 speed 1/250, ISO 4000, photo by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth

Click here to enlarge image
Camera NIKON D810, Nikon AF-Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D IF-ED Macro, f/13 speed 1/250, ISO 6400, photo by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth

Senaida Ba, our Q’eqchi’ Mayan plant identifier and photo assistant told me she had also seen terrestrial orchids similar in color and size to the aquatic Bletia purpurea that we found in a dozen areas around Lake Yaxha, Peten. We found this pink-purple orchid blooming on the same roadside hills as the red-orange ones.

Difference is that the pink-purple ones had no leaves: literally, the flower stalk came straight out of the ground. Senaida found one place where all the flowers had wilted but there was a set of leaves.

We will send these photos to orchid experts to make sure we have a proper name before we add the name to an update of this news item.




Gorgeous flowers of happy parasitic vine at Yaxha, Peten

Posted Dec. 19, 2018

Yaxha lake north shore below camp Psittacanthus species parasitic vine orange flower

Camera Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, lens 300mm, f/0, f/2.8 speed 1/400, ISO 500, photo by Alejandra Gutierrez

This week we are back in Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo (Peten, Guatemala) to continue research on flora and fauna. Since we are not aware of any studies of parasitic vines at Tikal or Yaxha or other national parks in recent years, we are working on making a list of all the treetop vines.

Psittacanthus is one of a dozen treetop vines, but this one is a parasite. Orchids and bromeliads are not parasites. Since the vine is so high in trees we have to use 600mm, 800mm, and 1000mm telephoto lenses, and even then we can’t capture an individual bunch of flowers. Much to our surprise, the last week of November we found a Psittacanthus vine flowering down at eye-level, so we could do close-ups. Here are samples.

Yaxha lake north shore below camp Psittacanthus species parasitic vine orange flower

Camera NIKON D810, lens 105.0 mm, f/3.0, f/9 speed 1/100, ISO 1000, photo by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth

We estimate this is either Psittacanthus macrantherus, Psittacanthus auriculatus or Psittacanthus calyculatus. Each species is slightly different colors depending on whether in Oaxaca, or Belize or Peten, and how long the flower has been open (so you see no yellow on the Psittacanthus here). We will update this page as soon as a botanist with experience with Family Loranthaceae of Mesoamerica can communicate with us.

You can experience these flowers in many locations of the park, especially near Grupo Maler and Blom Sacbe. Pleasant hotel at park entrance is nice place to stay: Ecolodge El Sombrero.




Pachira aquatica, zapoton, pumpo blooming for Happy Holidays 2018

Posted Dec. 17, 2018

Pachira aquatica zapoton pumpo Guatemala edible fruit

Click here to enlarge image
Camera NIKON D810, lens 200mm, f/4, f/11.0 speed 1/250, ISO 500, photo by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth

About 7 to 9 years ago, I planted seeds of zapoton from the Costa Sur (sea level) in our FLAAR Mayan Ethnobotanical Research Garden, at 1500 meters above sea level. This week I was so happy to see it bloom for the first time. What a great Christmas present for my heart and soul to see this flower (roughly comparable to structure of flowers it its relatives Ceiba aesculifolia and Pseudobombax ellipticum).

The city’s main botanical garden, just a few kilometers away, has the same tree happily blooming every year, so I knew that it would survive the colder climate, higher altitude, and lack of growing along a stream or lake.

Pachira aquatica grows along Rio Dulce, Lake Izabal, Rio San Pedro (Peten) and the aguadas behind Tikal’s visitors center. We are now searching for Pachira aquatica along the Rio Ixtinto, Rio Holmul, and Lake Yaxha (all part of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo).


<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Botanical Terms

Ecosystems, Wetlands Aquatic Plants

Smartphone Camera Reviews

Fungi and Lichens

Consulting cacao & Theobroma species

Tobacco Ingredients of Aztec & Maya

Plants and trees used to produce incense

Camera Reviews for Photographing Flowers and Plants

Trees with conical Spines

Flowers native to Guatemala visible now around the world

Ethnobotany site page Donations acknowled Botton DONATE NOW


Fruits (typical misnomer mishmash of Spanish language)

Fruits (vines or cacti)

Flowers, sacred

Plants or trees that are used to produce incense

We Thank Gitzo, 90% of the photographs of plants, flowers and trees in Guatemala are photographed using a Gitzo tripod, available from Manfrotto Distribution.
We thank Hoodman, All images on this site are taken with RAW CF memory cards courtesy of Hoodman.
Pachira aquatica, zapoton, zapote bobo, crucial sacred flower for Maya archaeologists and iconographers
Read article on Achiote, Bixa orellana, annatto, natural plant dye for coloring (and flavoring) food (especially cacao drink) in Guatemala and Mexico.
Read article on Cuajilote or Caiba: Parmentiera aculeata, a forgotten fruit.
Read article on Split leaf philodendron, Monstera deliciosa.
Read article on Gonolobus, an edible vine from Asclepiadaceae Family.
Pachira aquatica, zapoton, zapote bobo, crucial sacred flower for Maya archaeologists and iconographers
Flor de Mayo,Plumeria rubia, plumeria alba, plumeria obtusa. Edible flower used to flavor cacao
Guanaba, annona squamosa, Chincuya, Annona purpurea, Sugar apple, Chirimoya

Tikal Related Reports


Visit other FLAAR sites

Copyright © 2020. maya-ethnobotany.org. Powered by FLAAR
elektronik sigara orjinal elektronik sigara red kiwi elektronik sigara